The Runner: Stage 1


The Wheezer

by Patrick Reed

One of the most popular posts on the run5kaday blog has been my “4 Stages of Runners” outline. And I thought it would be fun to expand on the interest. In the next 4 posts, thus, during the next 4 days, I will flesh out each of the stages in greater detail. So, kick your feet up, brew up your favorite cold or hot beverage, and get set for 1 stage at a time! I wonder if a 5th – a highest and as yet unimagined stage – will materialize as we together explore the truest mettle in each of us – the Runner.

I have observed that the earliest, the most ancestral, the “purest?” form the Runner has taken is that of the Wheezer. This, as has been noted, is the neophyte harrier who is just setting out upon his first steps. Like the 15 month old, who steps monumentally and leans forward, arms beckoning and grasping forward, needing something to lean on, to give the sense of stability, of parenting, of  material – the Wheezer, the runner in his earliest stage, careens dependently, reaching for air and comfort and cessation. A stop to the rigorous traipsing will grant rest and confidence to the gasping neanderthal.

But our forerunner – the one we once were – (and do we harken back to this prior mold occasionally?) – only builds fluidly on this short, first victory. He is up at it again almost before the first foray is noted. This is the Second Run. There is a sweetness and innocence to the second effort. Having wheezed at first – and then thought about it, mulled it over – chewed on the wisdom of the first run – the Wheezer now has committed yet a second hour to his folly. And why has he come back? Why has he returned to the sublime crime?

Exhausted Runner

The answer to these questions speaks directly to the stuff of man. Why does he run a second time? And will each man return like he does? Clearly, the answer to the second question must be an echoing No!…… And I want to drive a stake in the ground right now to claim the Wheezer’s ground. He who once tries and does not return cannot claim the Wheezer’s crown.

You see, we over-competitive modernites… we little esteem the Wheezer. We would, in fact, be most content to ignore this 1st (in a series!!:)) installment of “The Stages” – thinking ourselves too versed in running wisdom to need such required reading… Oh, but read on, arrogant friend. For I am your companion in this over-zealous self-valuing. Just remember this: as we run through “The Stages” we amass their wisdom, and far from shedding each stage to lighten our burden on the ultra course to the “Fifth Stage,” we are really pushed forward reassured into the sweet abyss, buoyed on the backs of these previous stages. We do not so much evolve as runners as become. For it has been said that we are “Born to Run.” What does this mean other than in our training from never-before-trained to ever eager for the third wind we are actually remembering some forgotten knowledge which is intrinsic to humanity. The movement through the stages is like a Socratic dialogue in which we readily remember a priori knowledge – and all we need to be instigated to recall are the right questions, the right workouts.

The right workouts for the Wheezer are evident. Run. Any distance, any speed. Just run! The play of the dance with two feet simultaneously off of the floor, in other words, the run, is indeed a phase beyond walking. For the incarcerated citizen who meanders only about the modern house – knows nothing of the play of skipping – possible only to him who runs. It is the willingness to be playful – running being the base physical expression of playfulness – that elevates the Wheezer to esteem.

wheezer 2

Do not look down upon this infant runner. If you are of the pure mettle of the one who would encapsulate all of the stages, you are a Wheezer even as you hold court in the 5th dimension.

(In other words, we are each just a torn muscle removed from inconsequence.)

So, indeed, the Wheezer runs a second time – and so becomes a runner. To do once is but to taste. To repeat is to digest and to know the nourishment of the bait. The wise Wheezer, once hooked, does not let go – and is already then full of a DNA with the full code written on his infant heart.

Embrace the Wheezer. It is the stuff of the base simplicity of running. Certainly the base of fitness, but that of humility, too. The gasping distance runner is not proud. Yet, he who returns again to strive on the lifeless asphalt course, infuses very life into it. Drink in the oxygen, and Reach out to your better self. Run a second time — and Be.

~Coach Reed